Jacinda Ardern received a rock star welcome to the stage at Auckland Town Hall for her first major speech to the party faithful yesterday.
Three weeks after becoming leader more than 2200 people flocked to see her launch the party’s election campaign, filling the room and spilling into neighbouring theatres.
Former prime minister Helen Clark, who Ms Ardern started her political career working for, sat front and centre.
Ms Ardern talked about her past her childhood, the first time she was booed on stage and her maiden speech in Parliament in 2008 and her hopes for the future, and the times when the two intersected.
Reflecting on her family’s move from Hamilton to Murupara when she was a child she remembered the lady at the dairy who sold her lollies but also the children whose families could not afford shoes and the people who had lost their jobs.
“This was not the place or moment I was politicised. It was the moment I empathised,” she said.
“Understanding the issues people in our communities face, their experiences, and never being satisfied that things are they way they are, and can’t be changed or made better. That is why I choose politics. That is why I am here.”
There was special mentions of those who came before her Andrew Little and Norman Kirk, and as she turned her focus to the economy for Ms Clark and Michael Cullen.
The speech included a lot of highlighting of existing Labour policies three years free post-secondary education, removing tax advantages for housing speculators, cleaning up rivers and improving mental health services.
She called climate change her generation’s nuclear-free moment, vowing to tackle it head on.
“For me it’s simple I want to build a country where every child grows up free from poverty, and is filled with hope and opportunity,” Ms Ardern said.
But in her first major speech to the party faithful, kicking off campaigning for the next five weeks, she announced no new policy.
She ended her campaign speech with a call to arms for supporters, to redouble their efforts and focus on the challenges and opportunities ahead.
“This is our moment and it starts with you,” she said.
“Let’s go from here today and run the campaign of our lives. Let’s do this.”
Ms Ardern received a standing ovation from the crowd and was swamped by supporters wanting a selfie as she left the stage.
Earlier, internal party polls revealed the range between support for Labour and National was within the margin of error.
UMR recorded support for Labour at 37% and National at 40%, with a 3.6 point margin of error.
The figures, revealed by NZME, had the Green Party on 8%, up on the 4% recorded in the latest Colmar Brunton poll on Thursday, and New Zealand First on 9%. NZN